November 19th 2009: Day 13 of Circuit
More than halfway along the Annapurna Circuit now, this disparate crowd of trekkers has formed up into a cohesive amoeba that moves en masse from town to town. We are a bunch of English, a few Aussies, a scattered mix of Spanish, Canadians and me- the lone American ambassador. We now see each other in every town. We take our dinners together and we pause to chat when we see each other along the trail. It’s kinda nice, and there’s always friendly conversation and laughter.
I’m always first to wake up but am ironically often the last to leave. I set off walking on my own this morning, but was no further than half mile along my journey when I came upon Irati. She was taking a break on the side of the trail with a guy who Irati introduced as an “angel”. Later on I’d learn that his angel status was earned because he had shared some peanut butter with her. She’s crazy about American peanut butter.
Irati and I ended up spending the day walking and talking together. Her story was interesting- from cancer and depression to celebrating the days of her life, she’s been traveling much of the past few years. I enjoyed her dramatic take on life and and how she discusses every subject with outrageous enthusiasm.
A few hours into the journey, a fierce wind turned on. Like the flip of a switch. It was inane. This awesome wind was ripping through the valley gathering all lose dirt into a brutal hurricane of dust and debris. Irati and I shielded ourselves as best as we could, but it was impossible to avoid getting dust in eyes and mouth. The winds were so strong that poor Irati got blown down to the grounded– not once, but twice. It was mad. I guess it’s an everyday phenomena in this stretch of the circuit. Beginning at 11, the wind begins to wail. This shall be our destiny for the next two days as well.
In Johmson Irati and I came across a fortuitous “grocery store” where we stocked up on chocolate, peanut butter, cereal and milk– life’s finest ingredients. I was ecstatic to find Cocoa Krispies,or “Chocos” as they are branded in Nepal, and Irati was crazy with joy upon finding peanut butter. We decided this was cause for celebration– there’d be a party tonight.
After arriving in Marhpa, but before our cereal party, Irati and I walked around the village’s narrow walkways on up to the Buddhist monastery. We arrived just in time for a blessings ceremony that was taking place. We followed the pacifying sound of the deep gutteral Tibetan chant and took a seat on the cushions along the perimeter of a candlelit room. One by one devotees were approaching the monk, who offered a blessing and wrapped around each neck a golden scarf.
After dinner, we were a large group of trekkers sitting around the dining room. Some were drinking beer. Irati and I were indulging in delicious cereal and peanut butter. It was a great cereal party.